Port Elizabeth - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have snubbed a meeting request from the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) to discuss threats and intimidation levelled against journalists.
The request to meet follows EFF leader Julius Malema's inflammatory remarks, Sanef said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sanef said it asked for a meeting with Malema and other EFF leaders following his call on followers to "deal decisively" with a list of journalists he mentioned at his party's demonstration outside the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg.
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi had earlier said on different radio stations and national television programmes that the party would meet with Sanef.
However, the party secretary-general Godrich Gardee on Tuesday communicated to the forum that the party schedule was "very tight and fully booked with pre-arranged meetings and activities" in the run-up to the elections expected to take place in May 2019.
Meanwhile, a journalist whose name was on the EFF list was assaulted while shopping. Others face abuse on social media, Sanef said.
"While we acknowledge Malema’s right to criticise the media, we remain gravely concerned about the threats and intimidation of individual journalists – often women – who report critically on the EFF, and the chilling effect this may have in newsrooms," Sanef said.
"The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 2017 where its member states (including South Africa) unanimously condemned 'all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation, threats and harassment, including through attacks on, or the forced closure of, their offices and media outlets, in both conflict and non-conflict situations'," Sanef said.
Malema told Sanef via Twitter on Saturday that he would meet the forum "on condition you don’t bring racist things like this white young boy called Adriaan Basson” - who as the treasurer of the organisation.
"A meeting with the EFF leadership was the first step in Sanef’s response to these threats and we believed was absolutely essential before the elections," Sanef said.
"Sanef will continue to seek legal advice on remedies available to us to protect journalists from bullying and intimidation by politicians. Our council meeting resolved that journalists should feel free to leave press conferences or rallies by political parties if they feel under threat or intimidated."
The forum also condemned the ban on the Sunday Times reporters from its events.
"Sanef calls on all supporters of media freedom to join us in speaking out against the continued bullying and intimidation of journalists."
African News Agency/ANA